Mi'kmaw First Nation mourns two fishermen who died when oyster boat capsized off N.S.
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 11:27AM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2019 10:46PM ADT
You could hear a pin drop on the Paq'tnkek Mi’kmaw Nation on Tuesday.
The entire community was shut down as people tried to cope with the tragic deaths of two young men it seems everyone knew.
“A lot of friends, close friends in the community,” said Darryl McDonald. “They really had contagious smiles.”
The men, 28-year-old Ozzy Clair and 29-year-old Niko Clair, were both from the community and employed by the band as oyster fishermen.
It was a blustery afternoon Monday when they set out from the Bayfield, N.S., wharf in a 16-foot open boat.
At about 3 p.m., the RCMP received a frantic 911 call from a woman about a boat that had capsized near Seagrass Lane.
“When we arrived at the scene, we found a woman who had just come out of the water,” said Nova Scotia RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke. “So, she was on shore. There was an unresponsive man who was in the water about 10 feet from shore, and he was actually pulled from the water by the person who called 911. Those two individuals were taken to hospital right away. Our RCMP helicopter was in the area, so they assisted by going right to where the capsized boat was and actually located the third individual who was in the water at that time as well.”
Police say that man was located about 200 feet from shore.
Police say the woman was “suffering the effects of water exposure” and taken to hospital.
RCMP say all three were wearing personal flotation devices, but by Monday evening, both men were pronounced dead in hospital in Antigonish.
“They're both fathers,” said McDonald. “Some of their families live in New Brunswick. They were both individuals who were young, very energetic.”
Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is deploying a team of investigators to the area to help gather more information as to what caused the boat to capsize.
“We don't know what the cause was or what the circumstances were leading up to the incident, so we're looking into that and continuing to take statements, ask questions -- that sort of thing,” Clarke said.
A crisis team from Eskasoni First Nation went to the community to offer support. They're expected to be there for three days.
“It helps because everyone deals with grieving and mourning differently,” McDonald said. “Some are co-workers. It just impacts the community as a whole.”
In a Facebook post, the Paq'tnkek Mi’kmaw Nation confirmed the identity of the men as Ozzy Clair and Niko Clair.
“Our community mourns the loss of two young men today,” reads the post.
“Prayers to their family and friends, and thank you to hospital staff, emergency and helicopter crews for their efforts, and to clergy at the hospital for the kind and compassionate support.”
Tuesday’s council meeting and other band events were cancelled. Some businesses were also closed for the day.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.